The Macaca moment in the Midterm election in 2006 showed how powerful a viral video can be in a political campaign. George Allen (R-VA) lost his bid for the U.S. Senate and his hopes of running for the White House in 2008. Think about it – YouTube was not invented until after the last presidential election, and now we cannot imagine a campaign without online video. However, YouTube (or any other video sharing platform) is a tool in the tool box just like blogging and microtargeting.
According to Colin Delany on e.politics, video is powerful because it create “more of an emotional connection with a subject – having someone TELL you about a political issue” instead of reading a brochure. Video—if it is well crafted—can explain complex issues in an understandable way.
At the Personal Democracy Forum in New York in June, some of the YouTube masters shared their experience on how to break through on YouTube. Be timely, Understand the ecosystem, Build Networks, Listen to feedback – and a good looking female starring your video were among the tips.
During the beginning of this election, James Kotecki, then a student at Georgetown University, started uploading his own comments on the use of YouTube in the campaigns. He told our class that after watching so many YouTube clips he felt he was in a better position to make these comments than a lot of the usual talking heads on TV.
How to Use Video in a political campaign
James Kotecki’s tips on how to use YouTube effectively in a political campaign:
Have something to say
Remember it is a two-way-conversation
For instance, pick two or three questions every day and answer
Go backstage and show the audience what’s going on
Show them something different.
And a final tip from Cyros Krohn, who is leading RNC’s web platform. Krohn visited our class last week and pointed to the fact that it is hard to get viewers from YouTube to your own website. Remember to “watermark” you videos, so you are sure that YouTube viewers will go to your campaign’s website.
Kotecki spent four hours producing a two-minute video on his Mac. It is of course easy to post unedited material, but it can turn out to be a huge job producing video. Colin Delany estimates that it takes 30-40 hours producing a three-minute video.